Bibi: Soldier can be freed, but gov’t groveling
Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense committee meeting focuses on Kerem Shalom attack, Shalit kidnapping. Netanyahu slams government’s dealing with crisis, Avigdor Lieberman says ‘I don’t trust this government or its leadership.’ Olmert: Military operation possible before soldier’s release
The Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense committee meeting on Monday focused on the Kerem Shalom attack and the increasing Qassam rocket fire toward western Negev communities.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert took part in the meeting and faced staunch criticism regarding Israel’s conduct in the face of the Palestinian aggression.
Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu said following the meeting, “the kidnapped soldier (Gilad Shavit) can be freed. I am not privy to information on his condition, but the government can act in two ways: A rescue operation or the applying of pressure that will bring about his release. This requires an aggressive approach, not the groveling one the government is currently taking.
Olmert during Foreign Affairs and Defense committee meeting (Photo: AP)
Israel Our Home Chairman Avigdor Lieberman said “I don’t trust this government or its leadership. Israel must stop crying out ‘hold us back’ and then do nothing. A clear decision must be reached that those who carried out the kidnapping will be held accountable. (Palestinian Prime Minister) Ismail Haniyeh knew of the attack and gave his authorization; he is not doing anything to bring about the soldier’s release.”
A senior IDF intelligence officer said during the meeting that Haniyeh was holding talks with Gilad Shavit’s abductors on his release.
Olmert, for his part, said “the government considers the PA responsible for the soldier’s life. I am not ruling out the possibility of launching a military operation before the soldier’s release.”
Likud MK Silvan Shalom said “we must bring the soldier back, but we must not abandon the need for a wide-ranging response against the Palestinian terror. There is no distinction between the armed and political wings- it took us years to get Hamas on the list of terror groups.”
'Olmert tried to trick us'
As to the incessant Qassam rocket fire, Olmert told committee members “there is no magic solution” and presented a graph showing that the number of rocket attacks on Gush Katif settlements prior to the disengagement was higher than the number of attacks on western Negev communities.
Committee Chairman Yuval Steinitz demanded that the government reach a strategic decision on an extensive ground offensive against terror infrastructures.
However, Steinitz noted that “from the prime minister’s answer I understood that he is giving up the option of such an operation against the strengthening Gaza terror and that the residents of Sderot are destined to live their lives with the continuous Qassam fire.”
“Olmert tried to trick us by adding a mortar graph to the Qassam graph,” he said. “Apparently he doesn’t understand that the Palestinians cannot fire mortar shells on Sderot because of their short range.”
Olmert also commented on the prisoners’ document, saying “it is not a basis for the beginning of negotiations; it is not even a starting point.”
“We must strengthen those in the Palestinian Authority who are opposed to terror and not put them ‘in one basket’ with Hamas,’ the prime minister said.
Turning his attention to the realignment plan, the prime minister said “the government will exhaust all possibilities for negotiations, but there is no point in negotiating with someone who has no control over the Authority. In case we don’t succeed in the negotiations – we will act to obtain international support (for the plan).
'You are a liar'
“The government’s preparation for the realignment will commence during this year, as will the evacuation of outposts,” he said.
“In my government there will be no return to the 1967 borders.”
Netanyahu responded to Olmert’s comments by saying “unfortunately the prime minister has learned nothing. I was amazed to hear that he plans to ignore what the entire public sees and proceed with the realignment plan.”
“A massive response and is called for, and we must bring down the Hamas government.
MK Zvi Hendel of National Union-NRP launched a scathing attack on Olmert regarding his realignment plan.
“You are a liar, and you could use some humility. Instead of apologizing to the Gush Katif evacuees and the nation of Israel for the catastrophe you led to, you continue to speak of another expulsion plan,” he said.